Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bipolar Disorder and Its Unfortunate Link To Suicide

Bipolar disorder leads to more suicides and attempted suicides than any other mental disorder. This fact has been confirmed by many research studies over many years. These studies indicate that up to 20% to 50% of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder will attempt suicide at some time during their life. Up to 15% to 20% of all those diagnosed with will die as the result of suicide. These results have been consistent amongst many studies throughout the world. There is always the risk of suicidal thoughts if one is afflicted with bipolar disorder.

These statistics for suicide and suicide attempts are up to four times higher than the average for overall suicides and suicide attempts. They are also higher than for any other form of mental disorder. The statistics clearly indicate that someone afflicted with bipolar disorder needs careful attention. Amongst other reasons this is to ensure they are not entertaining suicidal thoughts. Who is best placed to do the watching? Most often this is their friends and loved ones. This is yet another reason that such people can be so much more valuable to the afflicted person if they understand bipolar disorder.

Recently, I searched an exact sentence on Google. That was "when pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result". There were "about 10,200 results." Given this result it would not be unrealistic to define "suicidal feelings" as being "when pain exceeds pain-coping resources." Accepting the definition stated for suicidal feelings immediately suggests two ways of easing suicidal feelings. These are:

1. to reduce the pain and/or

2. to increase pain-coping resources.

Remembering these two simple steps to reducing suicidal feelings could be very useful. If remembered they could be of great assistance. If you do find yourself in contact with someone who is clearly experiencing suicidal thoughts remember the steps. They could go so far as to save a life. Just knowing that someone is listening to them can go a long way to reducing the pain. Knowing that someone is with them, and willing to help, will increase pain-coping resources for them. This paragraph could be called first-aid for dealing with a suicidal person. For that reason alone it could be well worth remembering the lessons it contains.

I would suggest that even more is needed if you have a friend or relative who is has bipolar disorder. The risks of suicidal thoughts are so much higher than are usually the case. It therefore pays to be even more prepared than usual. When confronted with a life threatening situation anyone can panic. By having a well thought out plan in advance the room for panic is greatly reduced.

The best time to prepare an anti-suicide plan is when then the person inflicted with bipolar disorder is neither high nor low. It is important to involve them in the planning. This shows to them that you really do care. Also, by involving them in the planning, they could react more quickly, and more favorably, if there is ever a need to put it into practice. This is because they could remember the planning and recognize what you are doing on their behalf.

There is one important piece of information to have available at all times. This is the phone number for a respected suicide hotline. In the United States of America the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Most countries outside of the United States of America have a similar hotline available. If your friend or loved one has bipolar disorder make a point of finding out what it is. Once you have done so keep it with you at all times.

What are the key factors in any suicide prevention plan? In fact there are a number of aspects to take into account. However, from my personal experience I once attempted suicide three times within five hours because I was left alone. The key point to learn here is that if you believe someone is suicidal do not leave them alone. Remember, even remaining with them could reduce their pain or increase their pain-coping resources.

There are many resources available to assist with preparing a suicide prevention plan. Many of these are available free online by doing a simple online search. It is well worth while taking the time to prepare a plan together with the person with bipolar disorder. You never know when suicidal thoughts might occur. Having a plan ready could prevent panic. Avoiding panic could save the life of your friend or loved one.

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